For the next few days, I’m in Singapore to host a language lab to train people to speak their target language on day one, and to sign copies of my book. I’m also using this visit to a country that speaks English as an official language, to investigate its other unique linguistic opportunities. In this […]MORE
In the 1960’s, Pepsi took its “Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation” slogan to China, which was not well very well received. The reason? In Chinese, this translates to “Pepsi brings your relatives back from the dead.”
Clairol and Canadian Mist’s German Blunder
Canadian Mist, a brand of whiskey, failed in German markets because “Mist” in German means “manure.”
The same happened to Clairol when it attempted to sell a curling iron called the “Mist stick” to German markets. Who wants to put a shit stick into their hair?
Coors Spanish BlunderMORE
Ever since my viral post about the 29 life lessons learned in travelling the world for 8 years (over 2 years ago), I’ve started to get more and more questions about finding love on the road. How can a long term traveller have a girlfriend? What about leaving a wake of broken hearts behind? And […]MORE
Wednesday was my one month point in the three month Japanese challenge, so to really make my mark I wanted to record one last video with a prepared script before I get into recording spontaneous Skype (or in person) chats for the next two months. To really make it count, I decided to record a music video!
This video is quite an oddity because it is entirely in Japanese… and yet many of you who will have never learned any Japanese will understand quite a lot of it even without reading the lyrics that are edited into the video. And that’s because the video is made up entirely of words Japanese has borrowed from English, but said as closely as possible to the Japanese pronunciation (written in the Katakana script every time).MORE
Now, I knew everyone wouldn’t want it to say “Cunning Linguist”!! That’s just too cheeky for a lot of people (if you don’t get the joke, then say it quickly and you’ll notice it sounds like something else…), especially since a linguist isn’t the same as a language lover. Despite this, I have to say that in some places, especially in English speaking countries where people get the joke, I’ve had so many complete strangers come up to me and compliment me on the hilarious play on words.
But since that may be too risqué for many, I made sure that the options “Language Lover” (generally more understandable) and “Polyglot” (more specific and accurate, even if a less known word in English.. for the moment 😉 ) were available instead, also in the same dialogue world bubble.MORE
This video is entirely in English (I haven’t done such a thing for a half a year!) and is very simply just me reading a poem. But this is no ordinary poem! It was written (not sure by whom) to demonstrate the weird spelling convention that English follows, and is incredibly difficult to read without practising it a lot in advance!
I used to offer the best students in my classes (when I was an English teacher) €100 if they could read the entire thing without slipping up. Considering that I couldn’t even do this myself (I slip up once in the video even this time, and probably pronounce one or two words wrong), I knew that the money was safe!
This poem is generally used to prove that English is the “hardest language in the world” (I shit you not; as I always say every language makes this claim), so I’ve decided to hijack any searches people make for this poem, to add some humour to a normally dull and discouraging concept, and then add some encouragement of my own at the end!MORE
I get asked by people every day what the “secret” is to learning another language, and they don’t seem satisfied with my answer of there is no secret; you need to work hard, speak often and early with people, make many mistakes and use it for real etc. So you know what? The “truth” is […]MORE
Don’t worry, video updates in Arabic are coming soon 😉 Today I’ve just recorded the first of many videos to document my time in this country, and it should be on my Youtube channel by Monday (need time to upload HD videos on slow connections, as well as subtitling). But first, it’s time for another […]MORE
Language learning can and should be free, and there are many ways to do it without spending a penny, which I discuss regularly on this site. However, there is one time when spending a bit of bob can certainly be justifiable – when giving in to the consumerist frenzy that we celebrate just after the […]MORE
After a LOT of work to prepare the lyrics, round people together, send way too many emails, have contributors pick verses and languages, give them feedback for several different takes, blend it all together, get through the immense task of video and sound editing, and making sure everyone was happy with it… “Skype me maybe” is finally ready for the world! 🙂
As you can see, the storyline is that I’m a hopeless language learner, ready to give up, when 16 of the Internet’s most famous polyglots show up to give me some encouraging words… in the tune of Carla Rae Jepsen’s “Call me maybe” that was popular this year, and inover thirty languages. Yes, it’s as crazy and as good as it sounds! 🙂MORE
Today, I want to mention one of the most important points in my life, when my destiny changed and my faith in the traditional system of study hard, get a job, work up the ladder, and retire with as much money as possible, was absolutely shattered and I decided to start over from scratch, and why I’m really glad that I did.
Sorry it’s a little long, but I do want to give the full picture so you have the context of how my philosophy on life evolved dramatically in a very short time.MORE
I’m back in the Emerald Isle for the month (currently up in Donegal again, improving my Gaeilge before going back to Cavan for the Fleadh). It’s not just great to be speaking our first national language again, but also our second one; since I don’t have to water down my English to be more understandable, […]MORE
[Click “CC” to activate subtitles in either English or in Chinese simplified/traditional. Those in China without a VPN can watch it on Youku] After getting a train over 2,000km through China, chatting with random people and seeing pandas, meeting a Buddhist monk, and even climbing a mountainside staircase to a Buddhist temple to try and […]MORE
Just like last year, on April 1st, I wrote a blog post to celebrate April Fools’ Day with a ridiculous article! While this one was a lot more obvious than the last one, those subscribed to my Youtube channel who didn’t see this post, did genuinely think that I was faking my video as if […]MORE
It’s that time of the year again! I’m back in Cavan with my family, and sharing my favourite posts on the blog this year 🙂 Best language tip posts Most of the posts below are more related to travel or ideas I wanted to share, but I know many people read the blog for […]MORE